This is my first attempt at fanfic. Please be gentle, but tell me what you think! Feedback please!!!
Notes: We hear what Jim is thinking during this piece, Simon too at one point. Thoughts are marked with italics.
a Warriors epilogue
"Careful of the hinges Jim, this is a department car, not yours. No, mine is in some auto body shop somewhere while some idiot insurance agent decides whether or not to fix it. And you do not want to explain any more body damage to Simon right now." He's right on that one. Way to go Ellison, you just brought him back from Janet's funeral, and he's taking care of you. Time to think about what you are doing. Blair seemed angry as he went into the building.
Ten minutes later, Ellison quietly entered the loft, hoping that the time would help them both to cool off. His fervent wish seemed to be answered. Blair was sitting cross-legged in the living room, his meditation music playing softly in the background.
"Chief" Jim spoke softly so as to not startle the young man. "I'm sorry about jumping down your throat, I know that today was really hard for. . . ."
Without even opening his eyes, the younger man cut in, "Jim, man, I know that you are only trying to help here, but what I need is to find my center again. You need to do the same thing, yourself."
"Find my center, Sandburg, are you nuts? My center is right here where it's suppose to be, in my middle, and I know it's there because I can hear it growling."
"Growling, you mean as in your spirit guide? Cool."
"No man, growling as in I'm hungry, let's eat. Brilliant again, Ellison, you're 2 for 2 tonight. Take-out tonight, my treat. I could really go for some Chinese, how about you?" I am skirting around the issue and I know it. Course knowing it and admitting it are two different things.
"Sure man, that sounds good." He quietly continued in a voice only a Sentinel could hear "You can't avoid this forever." Damn, busted. He doesn't miss a thing.
The next morning dawned cold and clear as the two men left for their day at the station. Neither spoke of the brief conversation from the night before. Their silence continued as they made their way into the bullpen. Ellison quickly sat down at his desk, while his partner entered the break room and poured two cups of coffee. The subdued nature of the two men did not go unnoticed by the rest of the major crimes unit however. Captain Banks intercepted Sandburg on his way back in with the coffee. "Sandburg, Blair, are the two of you OK?" the worry evident in his face.
"We're OK Simon, uh sir, it's just been a rough couple of days you know. We just need to regroup a bit is all. We both lost someone on this one sir."
"If you say so, Sandburg," the captain followed him back to Ellison's desk, waiting for him to deposit both cups of coffee onto it. "I wanted to thank you for getting the Anthro Department to handle Incacha's remains. I wouldn't have wanted to explain that one to the Chief the week before budget reviews are due."
"What did you do?" it came out a little harsher than intended. "Why was the university handling his body? Don't tell me that you turned this into some damn...." What had that kid done now? How could he be so cold about this?
"Whoa, man wait a minute. I did not do anything but follow the traditional Chopec rituals for preparing a body for burial. My advisors just pushed the paperwork along and talked one of the alumni into flying him, and the rest of them home. He has to be buried before sunrise tomorrow for his soul to find peace. You know that Jim."
"I had forgotten the timing, if it had been left up to me, oh man, I can't believe I did that." Ellison's face paled at the thought of what might have happened. Stupid, stupid, they were your tribe, you who were standing in the loft yelling about it when he died. So you save me again Chief. What did I do to deserve you, my friend, and why can't I tell you what an anchor you've been in all this?
"Yeah, well it needed to be done, so I did it, no big deal." Tired blue eyes locked with the still angry blue eyes. "Everything worked out, we got his body home in time, along with his tribesmen, the alumn got a tax write off and the Anthro department got someone to catalog and inventory 53 cases of artifacts that are coming in next week, no biggie." Even as he spoke, the younger man was sorting the piles of papers on the desk. I know that before the day is over, every report on what has happened will be ready for my signature without my ever lifting a finger. The kid takes care of me. "I owe you one, Chief."
Captain Banks smiled to himself you owe him about a hundred there, Jim as he watched the interaction between the two men. Sandburg's reply was too quiet for the tall man to hear but judging from the smile it brought, not too quiet for the other to hear.
Ellison was right, before the day was over, the paperwork was ready for his signature. And he had not touched a keyboard all day. This certainly deserved dinner out. "Hey, Sandburg, lets go grab some dinner, my treat. Simon why don't you join us?"
"Jim, we have something to do first." the voice was soft, but firm. He turned to the captain and continued, "Sir, there's a full moon tonight."
"A full moon, what is that supposed to mean? Jim, what is he talking about? Jim?" The detective was lost in his own thoughts. What is Sandburg talking about, Incacha is thousands of miles away, being buried in Chopec land, what can we do?
Simon Banks continued on. "What does a full moon have to do with dinner tonight?"
Rafe and Brown chose that moment to walk past. "Hey, Sandburg, don't tell me you're hunting vampires now?" Their laughter echoed down the hall. The captain almost choked on that one. Sandburg - full moon - vampires, nah, let's not even go there. Unless the kid starts babbling about wooden stakes or silver bullets or starts wearing garlic cloves, of course.
Blair Sandburg, anthropologist and observer of the human condition began his explanation with patience that would have impressed even Job himself. "Jim, Incacha died here in Cascade, his soul separated from his body here. The burial ceremony may be taking place in Peru, but his soul's journey to the land of the ancestors must begin here. The Maviati ritual must be performed tonight so the light from the full moon will light his way."
Stunned, Ellison stared blankly at his partner for a moment. He shook his head "The Maviati takes hours to set up, there's no way we will be ready in time."
"It's all set up, Jim. In the forest in the sky. All we have to do is go there."
"I'll meet you at the car, Sandburg." Jim Ellison was not a man to show his emotions easily and he was very close to putting on one heck of a display as he headed for the safety of the men's room.
As Blair turned to leave for the garage, he felt a hand on his arm. Looking up he made eye contact with Simon. "Don't tell me you believe all that stuff. You are going to help that dead primitive find his peace?"
"What I believe isn't important, sir. Jim is carrying a lot of guilt over what has happened and he needs to let it go before it eats him alive. I'm going to help Jim find his peace, Simon. That's what's important right now." Blair was half way to the garage before the full impact of his words were absorbed by the captain.
Breathe. In. Out. Just breathe. What is with me, how could I turn my back on this. What would I have done if Sandburg hadn't done this. I would have let the Chopec down. Pull yourself together man. Breathe.
A subdued sentinel walked into the police garage. Looking neither left nor right, he walked straight to the car that they were using. Minutes passed before he spoke to the young man buckled in next to him. "You must think that I'm a real jerk, after all my posturing about his rights to his beliefs and traditions, and you're the one who had to do it all. I'm sorry, Chief."
"No apology needed, big guy. You were hurt and lost in your grief. Guiding you out of it is part of the job description."
Less than an hour later the two men were kneeling in front of a small firepit that had been carefully set up on the floor of the old greenhouse that the Chopec had found refuge in. All around them, ancient Peruvian symbols were marked on the floor, a pile of herb branches were next to the broken crossbow. "I didn't realize you knew so much about it, Chief." Ellison's voice was subdued, this had been transformed into a place of reverence.
"I knew the basics. No one else can use a warrior's crossbow after the warrior has fallen in battle. The crossbow is broken to prove that. During the Maviati, it is burned along with the herbs, so that his spirit will follow the smoke up into the sky. From there, the full moon will light his way. The symbols on the floor took some work, but I think they're pretty close. No outsider has ever heard the words of the Maviati, so that part is up to you. I can wait downstairs, if you want me to, I'll understand."
"When you became my guide, you became part of the tribe, Chief. You have as much right to be here as I have." Probably more so, my friend.
Blair nodded and sat back on his heels as he watched his friend light the fire and begin to quietly chant the ancient words the Chopec had used to guide their fallen warriors to the land of the ancestors. The wood of the crossbow burned quickly and the herb branches gave off a sweet smell. The smoke rose out of the greenhouse, through a broken pane in the ceiling, and dissipated into the night sky.
Ellison, who once had been the sentinel of the Chopec and now was the sentinel of the great city, felt the crushing weight of his sorrow and guilt lift off his shoulders and drift skyward. It seemed to join the smoke that was guiding his old friend. A peace that he had never known filled the space that it had left in him.
"Is it true that a fallen warrior can protect the soul of an innocent who was lost in the battle?" The voice was quiet and caught the Sentinel by surprise. Blair's troubled face was such a marked contrast to what Ellison was feeling. He helped me find more peace than I ever thought possible. Even with his own pain, he did this for Incacha, and for me. The older man nodded, and motioned for his guide to continue. Blair took a small bundle from his pocket and laid it on the fire. The fire blazed for a moment, consuming it, then died back down. "Go in peace my friend, you gave your life to protect these people, let Incacha guide your way."
Ellison laid his hand on his guide's shoulder before speaking again. In the native tongue, he asked for a safe journey for the young woman. As he finished he covered over the ceremonial fire, then progressed to the symbols on the floor. As he wiped away the markings, he recited the final words of the Maviati.
Without another word being spoken, the two men walked to the door. Instead of walking through the doorway, Sandburg stopped and opened a panel on the wall. His partner bit back a chuckle as he watched the younger man reconnect the smoke detector. Yes, Sandburg had really thought of everything.
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